The Impact of a Pre-Emptive Offer

June 18, 2017

By Kay Wilson-Bolton

In a competitive market like this, the impact of a making the early and quick “pre-emptive” offer can vary. In the old days real estate professionals would advise clients their first offer is their best one. It’s not always true.

If a home is listed at $650,000, it is reasonable to assume that a quick, full-price offer with reasonable terms, made prior to full market exposure, would be readily accepted by the seller.

Recent experiences demonstrate it isn’t so.  In the case of a trustee’s sale, it is the duty of the trustee to obtain the highest net return for the beneficiaries. The trustee may feel more compelled to wait to see all offers unless a fee appraisal is in the file making the trustee aware of what to expect when the house is appraised. And, the trustee will wait if there is no pressure from the beneficiaries.

If the sellers are being relocated, they are likely to accept their first, full-price offer unless they have a guaranteed buy-out and can afford to wait for a higher price. If it is a flip house, investment funds for the next sale are tied up until the close, it could go either way if the investor has significant funds in the bank.

The various business practices of individual brokers and their agents will influence the outcomes. Based on the contact management programs being used, buyers may hear about new listings within 24 hours of being taken. Others will learn about it in real time.

The neighborhood network is also in play. Word will leak that the property is coming on the market soon. Sharp buyers and their agent will make the pre-emptive offer that will result in one of two events. “Stop — let’s see what else is out there;”  or, “Go” and move towards escrow with the seller not looking back.

Listing agents needs to be wise in how they advise their sellers. The wrong advice could cost their clients  both money and time. There is no substitute for experience, but the agent is obligated to present options stand by while the client decides. It is always the client’s choice. Always.

Kay Wilson-Bolton has been serving Ventura County since 1976 and brings a regional perspective to local issues.  She can be reached at 805.340.5025, or and is associated with Century 21 Troop Real Estate.



The Value of Inspecting Rental Units–Regularly

The Need for Regular Rental Inspections

What Landlords Need to Know About the Occupants of their Home

May 20, 2014


In this day of materialism and the media focus on super ads and impulse buying, there are many good reasons for landlords or their managers to regularly visit their rental properties.

We learned some of our management strategies the hard way. It is easy to think because the rent is paid on time and the neighbors aren’t complaining that all is well with the tenants and the home.

There is just no substitute for a regular visit to the property and there are many reasons why. Most tenants prefer to avoid inspections and some will be insulted by the suggestion. Unchecked leaking faucets or hose bids set up conditions for mold, let alone wasted water.

There are a number of signs that a visit may be needed sooner than later. One is where cars are consistently parked in the driveway and not parked in the garage. It could be that there is an inordinate collection of “stuff” in the garage or people are living there.

Too much “stuff” creates fire dangers and too many people create many hazards particularly in condos when a fire caused by electric overloads immediately impacts adjoining units and innocent parties.

If someone is living in the garage, there is usually a refrigerator, a microwave and a heater of some kind.

Landlords who restrict renters to those who do not smoke in the unit might find them smoking in the back yard. Carelessly tossed cigarettes amid too much stuff, particularly in dry weather and unwatered yards are known to start fires.

Cluttered rental units pose a number of threats to health and safety.

Poor housekeeping should alarm every owner. It can range from unpleasant and unsightly conditions to those that are clearly unhealthy.

Food improperly discarded can be buried by dirty dishes, newspapers and boxes. Such conditions also make it hard to clean in corners, cupboards and dark places such as closets.

There are few worse nightmares than a unit overrun by cockroaches. Landlords who hire service companies to spray must require they be notified immediately when tenants do not allow entry or are not prepared for the treatments.

Most companies charge for the service whether entry is granted or not.

Cockroaches can destroy a unit and their presence is beyond disgusting. They love the dark places and end up in appliances which before long become unusable. It is even hard to find someone to discard such an appliance because cockroaches stay imbedded and travel with it.

In reality, an overcrowding situation is hard to catch because notice of a pending inspection is often sufficient time for the tenants to hide the evidence of multiple occupants.

In a recent fire in the County, there were 11 adults and 7 children living in a four bedroom apartment. The adjacent unit had 9 adults and three children. No one was injured and one unit was saved by the local fire department.

The landlord may not have known about the high occupancy. However, the possibility of multiple deaths in a situation like that is extremely high.

One obvious warning sign is two doorbells at the front door of a single family unit.

Another area of concern is when tenants rent rooms to families who bring in refrigerators and tap into electrical and cable tv services. In a current situation, a family of two adults and three small children were renting a room when the water was shut off for an  unpaid bill. The sub-renters gave the primary tenant $500 but the money was not used to pay the water bill.

Shortly after, the bed bugs arrived and the children were covered with bites. Fortunately one the parents became employed and they left behind everything they owned to not take the bugs with them.

The owner resides in a distant city and had not seen the unit for two years. She was appalled at what she found and the remedy is incredibly expensive on top of the lost rent.

Excessive occupancy is hard on plumbing. Water bills caused by heavy use of the showers can run very high and create situations for mold . This is particularly true during colder weather when windows are not left open.

Over-crowding also means extra furniture, and the potential for mold build-up between the wall and the furniture is great. Extra moisture is in a room where there are lots of people and ventilation is inhibited.  This occurs when bedroom doors are individually keyed and families live behind locked doors.

A recommended safeguard is to put a statement into each rental agreement that landlords will inspect the unit with proper notice. It is best to not state how often because it may become evident that more frequent inspections are appropriate.

If the tenant protests, assure them it is your way of being a conscientious landlord and manager. If they don’t agree, let them be someone else’s tenant.

Above all, be sure to check references and verify employment. Credit checks aren’t as important as they used to be, in my opinion,  but reports from previous landlords are. Be sure to compare phone numbers on the application. It’s happened where the phone number of the previous landlord was instead that of a relative of the applicant who pretended to be the previous landlord. We knew because the person couldn’t answer the questions of how long they had resided at the property and what was the previous rent and deposit amount.

Verify all written information and follow the laws that prevent discrimination of any kind. It’s okay to be generous and give someone the benefit of any doubt.

When in doubt it is best to consult an attorney with real estate and property management experience.

Wisdom is necessary to protect yourself from grief and your property from neglect and abuse.


Kay Wilson-Bolton is a real estate broker and property manager since 1976.

Point of Sale Revenue Issue or Is it About Safety?

REALTY MATTERS, By Kay Wilson-Bolton

Sewer Later Inspections in Ventura – March 6, 2014

There is a new requirement of home sellers in the City of Ventura that began on January 1, 2014.

The goal of the Ordinance, as provided on the City’s website, is to reduce sewage overflows by extending the City’s ability to compel property owners to eliminate potential deficiencies within their private laterals.

These inspections and repairs will be carried out at the owner’s expense and before escrow can close.

Targeted deficiencies include: root intrusion, kitchen grease build-up, offset joints, connections leading to rain water inflow, groundwater infiltration and any condition with the potential to lead to sewage reaching the surface from the lateral or the public sewer.

Ventura is an older community, with a wide range of housing stock and commercial and institutional properties. The age, quality and long-term maintenance of sewers varies widely.  So too, renters and owners vary widely in the care with which they control what goes into the sewers over time.

When not properly inspected, maintained, repaired or replaced by property owners, private sewer laterals may become blocked and cause overflows of sewage from the private sewer laterals.  Such sewage overflows negatively impact the public health, safety and welfare of both the property owner and the public by exposing them to untreated sewage. This could  also  result  in illicit discharges  of  sewage  from  private property to thepublic storm drains or waters of the United States or the State.

Most plumbing contractors can complete the inspection at costs ranging from $90 to $150. The City will not issue a completion notice to the escrow company until reports are filed with the City of Ventura.

If you are in escrow, don’t wait until the last minute to request the inspection and be prepared to cooperate. It is not optional if you want to close escrow.The real estate community calls such an ordinance a Point of Sale requirement. It doesn’t matter what label is on it because it’s required if you want to sell your home.

Kay Wilson-Bolton has been a broker in Ventura County Since 1976.

Limit the Input. March 19, 2000

March 19, 2000
By Kay Wilson-Bolton
President, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS®

If you have ever heard the expression that “a camel is a horse created by committee”, you can relate at least a little to the action that is taken as a result of a group decision which produces an outcome far different than what was originally intended.

If you plan to purchase a home soon, please keep that expression in mind. Home buying is a sometimes complex process based on many variables, i.e. price, location, amenities, school district, age, etc. It requires the buyers to focus on those variables while sorting through their priorities, finally arriving at a firm decision to purchase.

Occasionally, other family members get involved. It could be just mom and dad, but once in a while, the aunts and uncles, gown children, and even acquaintances, want to help out to make the final decision.

REALTORS® have seen this “committee” approach and involvement cause anything from mild confusion to total chaos. While all mean well, the primary future residents may be distraction from their initial objectives, leaving them “decision less.”

It is also common for one of the helpers to live a distance away and have a real estate license! A good rule of thumb is to limit the decision-making process to only those who are directly involved in the buying process.

If mom and dad or aunt and uncle are supplying any of the capital, they are entitled to participate and should for it is their investment also.

The Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® is continually working on preparing our REALTORS® to be good stewards of your time and confidence. This year’s chair of the Public Relations Committee is Wayne King. You will be hearing more of his committee’s effort to help our clients understand the scope of a REALTOR®’S® work.

When buying or selling your next home, choose a REALTOR® . There is a difference and you can benefit. For more information, contact Bob Seitz, CEO, Ventura County Coastal Assn of REALTORS® at 981.2100. Our website is

Pre-Approval process is essential

Don’t be surprised if a real estate agent declines to show you property if you have not initiated the process to “get your loan ready.” Once in a while, a would-be homeowner will claim they don’t want to bother with the preapproval process until the find a home they like.  Those days are now ancient history.

Most agents devote themselves to clients who have done the work of getting ready to buy a home. It means the lender has been told “all” and knows “all.”  They provide a letter of preapproval (far better than a simple prequalification letter) which states all you need to buy a home is the address, an executed purchase agreement and a preliminary title report.

The pre-approval letter is the parachute behind the offer, as well as the safety net, the stamp of approval, and the insurance policy for a good transaction. Much of the bad rashes from the previous real estate market have been cured by proper lending practices, which even includes a separation from the appraiser. This is to insure impartial and unpressured evaluations.

If you want to buy a home and whether it’s your first or fifth, you must have a pre-approval letter. So before you find the home of your dreams, start the process to avoid major disappointment.  None of this is personal against one buyer over another—it’s just good business.



Hoarder Homes – Identify, Assist and Professional Handling

When It Looks Like No One is Home…If a home in your neighborhood looks like no one is home for an extended period of time, do humanity a favor and knock on the door. It is possible someone is behind those closed doors living with unhealthy fears and behaviors.

In more cases that you would think, people are living and dying alone, surrounded by untold collections. Popular television programs have taken the lid off the topic of hoarding but not the mystery. All compulsive behaviors have causes and unpleasant side effects.

In almost a dozen recent properties that have been referred to me for sale, they were occupied by hoarders whose lives were driven by the passion of surrounding themselves with perceived comfort in the form of “things”. Unfortunately this can include pets.

There are five classifications of hoarders according to the National Study on Chronic Disorganization. The specific areas deal with Structure and Zoning, Pets and Rodents, Household Functions, Sanitation and Cleanliness

Hoarding can include excessive attachment to possessions, extreme clutter throughout the home’s living spaces, inability to discard items and the stacking of magazines, newspapers and junk. Hoarders will move items or trash from one pile to another, without ever discarding anything. They will acquire seemingly useless items, including trash. They have organizational difficulty or perfectionism, exhibit difficulty permitting others to touch or move accumulated items;  put off doing what they know needs to be done; have difficulty making decision and managing daily tasks, and have limited or poor socialization skills. 

Based on the level of hoarding identified, it may be best to contact the County’s Mental Health Department or in some cases the local police for a “well-being check”. If extreme Level 5 has been reached, it is recommended that clean-up be left to professionals who have the proper safety equipment and anti-bacterial chemicals and licenses.

You can help prevent this sad outcome in your neighborhood by watching for the lonely looking home where lack of yard care is evident; where few visitors are noticed except for regular deliveries from United Parcel of Fed-Ex, trash buildup and general lack of activity.

 When the residents of these homes have passed away or moved to safer living situations, a REALTOR® with experience in clearing and cleaning such a home should be called in to assist in rehabilitating the property for resale and utilize appropriate marketing strategies and disclosures.